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How does Priestly shape the audiences expectations for the rest of the play? With particular reference to characterisation, plot and social / political themes.

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Introduction

Clare Oswald How does Priestly shape the audiences expectations for the rest of the play? With particular reference to characterisation, plot and social/ political themes Priestly shapes the audience's expectations for the rest of the play, initially making the setting a family dining room of an industrial businessman on a Spring evening in 1912. The family have all sat together to have dinner and celebrate the engagement of their daughter with Gerald, son of Lady Croft. The tensions between the characters, shown in their use of language, actions and social interaction typifies in just this one family, the political tensions of 1912. The audience, viewing it initially in Russia is looking at the play in the 1940s, with hindsight. The audience has knowledge that the family does not have, that there will be social revolution and World War I will occur. The intrigue that an inspector will call gives the audience a sense that the family will be scrutinised and their faults found out. ...read more.

Middle

The industrialist father, Arthur Birling who is the breadwinner and prides himself on keeping his family prosperous so that the world can see how well they are doing is allowed to rise up the ladder. His odd mistakes which are not quite aristocratic style are overlooked by Mrs Birling to some extent because he brings wealth and prosperity. Mrs. Birling's class, the aristocrats have no real power to change the economy and they seem only to set standards and keep the balance of power with them and far from the masses like Edna and the Cook. Since this play was first shown to a Russian audience who had seen a Revolution and the aristocracy overthrown to make way for Communism, this is an engaging theme. It gives the audience a position of knowledge greater than the characters. The audience is entertained. They can both laugh mockingly and feel sorry for the characters in their cosy little world where everything seems in good order to them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Though this seems patronising at first, it is also seen as important to show social standing. So, Eric, Gerald and Mr. Birling are in the dining room smoking and drinking port and talking about the differences in society. Mr. Birling is very pleased with himself, telling the two younger men to take care to look after themselves and their families first. He urges them to ignore rumours about industrial unrest, strikes for better conditions and to ignore the idea that a war is about to break. He is clearly enjoying his narrow, self-satisfied rose-coloured world when suddenly the doorbell rings sharply. It interrupts the long speech abruptly. The audience are no doubt relieved that at last it will stop and reality has broken in. The announcement that an Inspector is at the door makes the audience wonder if this is the scandal about to unfold that Mr. Birling joked would not like to happen to his family. The lighting is changed and becomes brighter. The rose-coloured lighting has gone and now some clarity is on the stage. ...read more.

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